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Journeys of Faith and Welcome

Together With Refugees launch their new Campaign

Dear friends,

Today Together with Refugees is excited to launch our new campaign, Fair Begins Here.

Over the next two years, we will be doing all we can to ensure the next UK government commits to a fair new plan for refugees. To kick this off, we have brought together figures from across British society from Gary Lineker and Big Zuu to the former head of the British army, from the chair of the British Medical Association and faith leadership to the general secretary of UNISON and lived experience advocates. You can read more about their letter to political leaders on our website.

The launch has already received great media including coverage in the Telegraph, Daily Mail, Mirror and BBC. In the week when the Government’s proposed legislation on the cruel Rwanda scheme will be voted on, the time couldn’t be more right to rally support for a kinder, fairer alternative. Today’s launch demonstrates what we all know: people from across the UK and all parts of society support our call for a fair new plan for refugees.

We would be grateful for your support in amplifying the launch via your social media channels today. Here is a social media pack which includes suggested content as well as graphics and a GIF. Please download high res versions here.

Next year will be a huge year for our Fair Begins Here campaign as we demonstrate united, visible support from people from across society and in every corner of the UK and show political leaders that the majority back a new approach. We can only do this with the active support of coalition members like you.

A reminder that we’re inviting you to join Sabir Zazai, Chair of Together With Refugees, for an online briefing session on Wednesday 13 December at 6-7pm to find out more about the campaign and how you, your organisation and networks can be active in 2024 -please register here.

Thank you for all your support.

In solidarity,

Ruth, on behalf of the Together With Refugees team

The Truth about Channel crossings and the impact of the Illegal Migration Act

Screenshot 2023-10-07 at 09.11.02.png

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"Each year, over 27,000 refugees who cross the channel will be
denied status in the UK."

Refugee Week

 

I’ve listed the highlights below:

  1. ‘Holding Hope in the Face of Hate’ on 22 June 2023 over lunch in Glasgow.
    This is hosted by Interfaith Glasgow and will be an inspiring dialogue and
    discussion amongst New Scots and people of faith.

  2. Given the specific situation for Ukrainian New Scots in Edinburgh, we are
    hosting an lunch-time information session and networking for faith groups in
    Edinburgh on Wednesday this week. Please share and you can sign up here: https://newscotsfaithgroups.eventbrite.co.uk

     

  3. A number of local interfaith groups are hosting welcome events across Scotland this week. They are all listed in the Refugee Festival Scotland Programme and there is more information here. Do have a look and share.

 

Illegal Migration Bill

The, together with Together With Refugees, we are launching the multi-faith video expressing concern about the Illegal Migration Bill and calling for a more hospitable approach. Many faith leaders are speaking out in this and it would be wonderful if you could share it too. You can watch and download the video here, and you can find suggestions for how to share the video here, including example tweets. At the bottom of this email I have attached a press release that you can use to shape your news stories, but please add quotes from your own faith leaders. Please do share it widely today and throughout the week.

 

FAITH LEADERS JOIN FORCES TO OPPOSE ILLEGAL MIGRATION BILL

 

The video is available for journalists to view here. It is available in different formats to download and embed on your own channels here.

 

Leaders from Muslim, Christian and Jewish faiths have joined forces to voice their opposition to the Illegal Migration Bill in a video co-ordinated by Together With Refugees and launched today (Monday 19th June 2023) at the start of Refugee Week.

 

Those taking part include the Right Reverend Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Chelmsford and member of the House of Lords, Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen from Manchester Reform Synagogue, and Imam Dr Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi Chief Imam of the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society in the United Kingdom (1).

Right Reverend Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, who arrived in the UK at 14 years old as a refugee from Iran, said: “This bill would allow the UK to turn its back on people in desperate need - denying safety to those who are vulnerable. Instead it would lock up people who have fled terrible circumstances in fear for their lives. I arrived in this country aged 14 and was given protection and welcome. But the proposals in this bill would mean detaining children who need help behind bars. I am proud to join with other faith leaders to stand with refugees against this bill. It does not represent who we are as faith leaders or as a nation.”

Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen, Manchester Reform Synagogue, said: “My very existence is owed to countries who understood their duty to welcome in refugees. My religion repeatedly reminds me that it is because we have had to wander that, in turn, our responsibility is to others who are fleeing from harm now. Judaism demands that we fight for justice and it’s clear that the Illegal Migration Bill is far from just or responsible.”

Imam Dr Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi, Chief Imam of the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society, said: “Any policy must recognise human dignity and compassion as underlining core principles. A compassionate policy can still secure our borders and prevent dangerous crossings, and at the same time taking into consideration the most vulnerable.”

 

The 14 contributors to the film state: “As people of faith, we strive to welcome the stranger, to offer hospitality, to love, protect, listen, learn, and show compassion. This is who we are.

“Across the UK, now and throughout history, individuals and communities of faith have welcomed refugees into their homes and lives. When people travel across borders because they are fleeing war, persecution or oppression, we are ready to play our part. But the Illegal Migration Bill will deny people desperately seeking safety in the UK the right to community, peace, compassion and security. It will ban people from getting the protection they need, punish them for seeking sanctuary, and separate families. Instead of hospitality, it treats people with hostility, discrimination and distrust.

“We believe in a different approach. We believe in a fair and just asylum system that welcomes those who need protection and respects their dignity. We call on the government to listen to communities who say this bill does not reflect what we want our country to be. As people of faith, we will stand together with refugees, because it’s who we are.”

The Illegal Migration Bill is currently making its way through Parliament. It would mean that anyone, including children, who arrives in the UK via an irregular route, such as a small boat across the Channel, would never be able to claim asylum here even if they have had to flee their home country due to persecution or conflict. The UNHCR has said that the bill “would amount to an asylum ban” as it would extinguish “the right to seek refugee protection in the United Kingdom for those who arrive irregularly, no matter how compelling their claim may be”. It also includes extensive powers to detain people, including children, with no time limits (2).

 

(1)The full list of faith leaders who took part in the video are:

  1. Bishop Mark Strange Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church

  2. Elizabeth Palmer CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society

  3. Emily Shepherd Co-CEO of Welcome Churches

  4. Father Michael Coughlan Parish Priest

  5. Fiona Bennett Moderator, United Reformed Church

  6. Revd Inderjit Bhogal President of City of Sanctuary

  7. Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen, Manchester Reform Synagogue and Manchester Citizens

  8. Revd Sally Foster-Fulton Moderator of the Church of Scotland

  9. Revd Tim Presswood President of Baptists Together 2023-2024

  10. The Rt Revd John Perumbalath Bishop of Liverpool

  11. Rabbi John Levy North Western Reform Synagogue

  12. Imam Dr Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi Chief Imam of the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society in the United Kingdom

  13. Rabbi Alexandra Wright from The Liberal Jewish Synagogue

  14. Bishop Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Chelmsford and member of the House of Lords

 

(2) Refugee Council - Assessment of impact of inadmissibility, removals, detention, accommodation and safe routes (March 2023) https://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Refugee-Council-Asylum-Bill-impact-assessement.pdf

 

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